Dear colleagues,That argument about the "haves" and the "have nots" really resonates with me.
Playing politics with people’s lives is an ugly, shameful act, and that is exactly what Mayor Bloomberg is doing by continuing to raise the specter of layoffs. His efforts to scare newer teachers and demonize veteran teachers do nothing to help children or support the work that we do every day. That’s not strong leadership or responsible management. It’s irresponsible and downright disgraceful.
The fact is that layoffs aren’t necessary, and the mayor knows it.
The mayor and his staff continue to greatly exaggerate the size of proposed state budget cuts, which has earned them several public rebukes from the governor. What’s more, the city has now been forced to reluctantly admit that it has a surplus of more than $3.1 billion, according to the mayor’s budget presentation on Thursday.
If the mayor was truly concerned about a budget cut from Albany, he would be advocating for smart, sensible revenue plans in Albany, including the renewal of the millionaire’s tax next year — a move that would bring in $1 billion this year and $5 billion next year.
Yet the mayor has refused to back down on his layoff threat. He is also actively campaigning against extending the millionaire’s tax. His stance is very telling of his true motives: He wants to do layoffs to force the issue of how layoffs get done. He wants to pit parents against parents and teachers against teachers. And he wants to give tax breaks to his wealthy friends at the expense of our schools.
Our children can’t afford to be pawns in the mayor’s political games. Nearly 6,000 teachers and other educators have left and not been replaced over the last two years. Class sizes have skyrocketed, reaching levels we haven’t seen since the city’s fiscal crisis in the mid-1970s. The loss of additional teachers will directly harm students’ education even more.
New York City now has the worst income disparity in the entire country. The “haves” are enjoying record profits and record bonuses, while the rest of us are still struggling through the recession. Consider this: Half the households in our city have incomes of less than $30,000 a year and more than 10 percent live in deep poverty on incomes of $10,500 or less. At the same time, the top 1 percent of city households average $3.7 million each year, or $10,137 a day.
The mayor needs to stop playing the political games. We can’t afford to let this income disparity continue. We cannot allow class sizes to rise any further. That’s why we are fighting for additional state dollars with the millionaire’s tax.
The mayor’s failure to fight for children and working families only further reinforces what we, the true advocates for our students, need to do.
Here is what you can do today:
1. Call 311 and tell the mayor to say no to layoffs and skyrocketing class sizes.
2. Send a letter to your state representatives asking them to keep cuts away from kids.
3. Spread the word among colleagues, parents and friends about the mayor’s shameful tactics.
4. Sign up to participate in our growing grassroots campaign at www.uft.org/jointhefight.
Of course Mort Zuckerman thinks I, as a public employee with health insurance, a pension (if Bloomberg doesn't take it away first) and job protections, am one of the "haves."
But that is ludicrous on its face.
The "haves" are Bloomberg and his cronies - the hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson, the Goldman Sachs executives taking home millions in bonus money, the Wall Street criminal class that nearly brought down the economy in 2008 and yet have been not held accountable for any of their crimes.
THOSE people are the "haves."
It is high time we take their money from them.
It will be a long, hard road getting Americans to see that this economy only works for the top 10% these days.
But that's the truth.
And until we make these people FEAR us - fear for their jobs, fear for their livelihoods, fear for their property, fear for their families, fear for their lives, as we in the middle and working classes now fear - they will NOT STOP STEALING FROM US OR EXPLOITING US.
It is that simple.
Right now, they have no fear.
You can see it in the smirk on Bloomberg's face, the inattention from Klein as he plays with his Blackberry and ignores the public at PEP meetings, the policies that Obama and Bloomberg and the rest of the oligarchs put into place that screw us.
But the anger is ratcheting up.
So far, it is unorganized or worse, misdirected at the wrong people.
That's the problem with the Tea Party.
But the oligarchs can only get away with this stuff for so long before the Grapes of Wrath come back to haunt them.
Read this piece at Minyanville and see what I mean.
As John Steinbeck wrote about another time not all that different than our own:
And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: When property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: When a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: Repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. -- John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath
It is time to strengthen ourselves and take back what the Wall Street criminal class and the bankers and the hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson are stealing every day of their evil, greedy lives.
Because if we don't, they will come for us like they have come for the working and middle classes in Wisconsin.
They are insatiable and can only be stopped by a force of will.